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WATCH: In His Former Life as Alabama’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions Abused His Power and Was Read the Riot Act Over It

David Cole on Rachel Maddow
David Cole on Rachel Maddow
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January 12, 2017

It is now well-known that Jeff Sessions’ record as a senator shows blindness or hostility to the rights of those the attorney general is responsible for protecting — people of color, women, LGBT people, religious minorities, and immigrants. Less well known, but equally disturbing, is his record as a prosecutor. When he last exercised the power of a prosecutor, as attorney general for Alabama in the 1990s, he abused that power.

The biggest case his office handled was thrown out in what the judge called the worst case of prosecutorial misconduct he had ever seen. In a remarkable opinion, the Alabama state trial judge hearing the case concluded that “the misconduct of the Attorney General in this case far surpasses in both extensiveness and measure the totality of any prosecutorial misconduct ever previously presented to or witnessed by the Court.”

The court found that the “the prosecutorial misconduct is so pronounced and persistent that it permeates the entire atmosphere of this prosecution and warrants a dismissal of these cases.” It also found the misconduct so pervasive that “this court can only conclude it is dealing with either intentional and deliberate misconduct or conduct so reckless and improper as to constitute conscious disregard for the lawful duties of the Attorney General and the integrity and dignity of this court and this Judge.”

Sessions’ office filed a 222-count indictment against a business competitor of a company that was contributing to Sessions’ first senatorial campaign, using the power of his office to intervene in a private business dispute. The court dismissed every count of the indictment — some as baseless, but others because of egregious prosecutorial misconduct.

Senators must ask themselves: Should we be confirming a man to the most powerful prosecutor’s office in the country who has a record of prosecutorial abuse?

For more, see our written testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee or this clip of ACLU National Legal Director David Cole discussing the case on The Rachel Maddow Show:

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